Are Benzos Illegal?


You can readily use benzodiazepines as long as it is prescribed by a licensed medical doctor. This drug works on your brain where it tries to slow down your mind and body processes. If you have depression, panic attacks, insomnia, or anxiety disorder, then you can be given this prescription medicine.

Likewise, it is a common question among individuals if acquiring benzos is illegal or not. In this article, we are going to give light on this question and some relevant ideas about usage and treatment from being addicted to this substance.

Common Brands of Benzodiazepines in the Market

The top five most used benzos for patients are the following: Alprazolam, Lorazepam, Clonazepam, Diazepam, and Temazepam. Below is the corresponding number of drugs prescribed to patients in the United States in 2017.

  • Alprazolam: 45 million
  • Lorazepam: 26.4 million
  • Clonazepam: 29.2 million
  • Diazepam: 12.6 million
  • Temazepam: 7 million

Here are the typical brands of benzos dispensed in the industry:

  • BenzodiazepineAlprazolam: Xanax and Kalma
  • Bromazepam: Lexotan
  • Lorazepam: Ativan
  • Clonazepam: Paxam and Rivotril
  • Flunitrazepam: Hypnodorm and Rohypnol
  • Diazepam: Valpam, Ducene, Valium, and Altenew
  • Oxazepam: Alepam, Serepax, and Murelax
  • Temazepam: Temtabs, Normison, and Temaze
  • Nitrazepam: Mogadon and Alodorm

What Are the Legal Uses of Benzodiazepines

The sedative-hypnotic effect of this medicine on your brain proved essential for treating specific disorders like insomnia and tremors. Below are some of the primary usage of this prescribed substance:

  • Used to alleviate epileptic episodes (anti-convulsant)
  • Curing anxiety disorders
  • Relaxation of your tired and stiff muscles
  • Reducing painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Treating panic attacks
  • Used alongside anesthesia

In terms of physical form, you can see this medicine in tablet, pill, or injectable forms. Likewise, only a licensed doctor can choose which form suits well for your condition.

When Is It Legal or Illegal To Have Benzodiazepines

Benzo InfoFor you to legally acquire these medications, you need to have a prescription from your doctor or physician. Likewise, your prescription must never be expired when you go to your nearby pharmacy to purchase these drugs.

Based on the drug schedule of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), benzos are under Schedule IV controlled substances. It means these are substances with a low risk of developing a tolerance, yet the effectiveness of benzos makes it more dangerous.

In contrast, you can illegally possess these medications when you purchase them from another person with a prescription. Other means when it becomes illegal to acquire these drugs include the following:

  • Faking your prescription just to buy the drug
  • “Doctor shopping” or getting multiple prescriptions from different physicians or doctors
  • Using someone else’s prescription to acquire the drug

Consequences for Illegally Possessing Benzos

Once you are caught unlawfully buying this prescription medicine, you will suffer legal consequences within your state. You will either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the number of benzos you illegally acquired.

If you acquire little amounts only, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor, whereas if it is in large volume paired with illicit distribution, then you are guilty of a felony.

For a misdemeanor, you will be inside a county jail for a short time while paying small judicial fines. In contrast, a felony charge will face heavier legal consequences like 10 years imprisonment and a penalty starting from $250,000 to $1 million.

Also, if you are a first-time offender for a felony, then you will serve five-year imprisonment in state prison. For recurring offenders, the incarceration duration will start at ten years of state imprisonment, with a fine between $500,000 to $2 million.

What Is Expected In A Prescription Bottle

Prescription BottleIn most states, your benzodiazepines are considered legal when they are kept inside your prescription bottle, otherwise, it will be illegal. Likewise, your prescription bottle’s label must contain the following necessary details:

  • Personal Identification which includes your complete name, birth date, and permanent address
  • Your doctor or physician’s identification details
  • Details of the pharmacy where you will buy your medicines
  • Name of the prescribed drug
  • Form and concentration of the drug
  • Dosage
  • Quantity
  • Expiration of the prescription bottle

Status of Benzodiazepine Illegal Usage

In the United States, there is a continuous dilemma regarding illegal distribution and possession of benzos, which is done through fake prescriptions, doctor shopping, and the black market. Besides, below are some statistics about the illicit distribution of these medicines in society.

  • Alprazolam: 3rd most illegally possessed benzos, where there are 47,546 are illegally distributed in the country
  • Clonazepam: 11,430
  • Diazepam: 4,451
  • Lorazepam: 2,315
  • Temazepam: 436

Adverse Impacts of Abusing Benzodiazepines

You will feel the sedating effect of this prescription medicine within 6 to 24 hours. Despite its medicinal calming impact, you will have side effects from using and abusing these drugs. Here are the common health consequences of benzodiazepine addiction:

  • Slow to zero body coordination
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Short-term memory loss to amnesia for severe addiction
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Depressed breathing
  • Inability to speak well
  • Being paranoid or hallucinating
  • Feeling tired most of the time

Other Substances Taken Along with Benzos

Other benzos are quick-acting and this gives a pleasurable high feeling for the user. Likewise, here are some illicit substances used by addicts alongside benzodiazepines.

  • Methadone
  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Opioids

Typical Withdrawal Symptoms When You Stop Taking Benzos

The safe period of using this controlled substance for medicinal purposes is between 3 to 4 weeks, while to ensure very minimal withdrawal signs, then use it for 1 to 2 weeks only.

Nevertheless, there are instances when your doctor will prescribe you to use this medication for more than a month, due to your condition. With that, you are guaranteed to experience withdrawal effects when you stop taking this drug.

Consequently, you need to have medical supervision when gradually stopping from using benzos. Also, here are the common withdrawal effects of benzo use and abuse:

  • Intense sweating
  • Loss of weight due to the inability to keep your proper diet
  • Headaches or migraine
  • Seizures
  • Blurry vision and hearing skills
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Vomiting

When To Seek Treatment

Once you find yourself or your loved one abusing benzodiazepines, then you need to talk to a doctor or addiction specialist to receive a tailored-fit treatment program. Get an early intervention so you can clearly understand the importance and benefits of undergoing a rehab recovery plan.